February 29th, 2024

Court documents identify suspect in Old Montreal fatal fire, but no charges laid

By The Canadian Press on January 19, 2024.

A convicted killer who Quebec police suspect started the fire that killed seven people in Old Montreal last March admits he was at the scene of the arson but claims someone else set the blaze. A woman kneels next to a makeshift memorial at the scene following a fire in Old Montreal, Sunday, March 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL – A convicted killer who police suspect started the fire that killed seven people in Old Montreal last March admits he was at the scene of the arson but claims someone else set the blaze.

Documents from Correctional Service Canada that cite Montreal police testimony alleged that Denis Bégin was caught on video in the area around the building that caught fire before and after the blaze.

Those documents, first reported on by La Presse, say Bégin denies setting the fire but claims to have a photo of the person responsible on a secure cloud account.

He has allegedly offered to show the photo to investigators in exchange for immunity in the arson case, or a reduction in the life sentence he is currently serving for a 1993 murder.

Bégin spent 51 months on the lam after he escaped from a minimum security federal prison in February 2019, and was arrested last May after being identified during the fatal fire investigation.

No charges have been laid in connection with the fire and Montreal police have never publicly identified Bégin in the case.

The correctional service documents are part of an application filed by Bégin against the attorney general of Canada opposing a transfer to a maximum-security prison.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2024.

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